Sunday, March 2, 2014

Thank you, Ms Lady-in-the-Striped-Shirt

We were standing in line at the grocery store yesterday, and a string of events went down that brought a smile to my face.

We were forecast to get a huge winter storm today, so naturally, the grocery stores were packed yesterday with all the people who thought they'd never see food again.  Meanwhile, I just needed cheese for my work lunches.  So we had the deli slice out the cheese and brought it up front.  Every register had long lines, so we just got on the end of the shortest one and waited.

It soon became apparent that we had once again selected the line that DOESN'T move.  Experience has taught me that this usually means there is an unreasonable customer up front holding everyone else up.  So I look up there, and I see this woman discussing her check with the cashier.  Yep, still writing paper checks. Whatever, I figure the check got declined or something and she's arguing.  A few minutes, and the line will start moving, right?

A few minutes later, and she's still up there.  I watch as she has the cashier scan a can of frozen orange juice concentrate.  He picks up a second and tells her that the rules of the sale state one per customer.  She, of course, gives zero damns about the rest of the customers who may want them.  Instead, she insists that he just ring them up separately.  I guess this store's policy allows this, because he went ahead and totaled the sale for the first one.  She hands him another check.

That's when I see her other hand.

She's got a stack of checks in her hand, and she's expecting this cashier to ring all these separately so that she could rape the sale while other customers get screwed out of the inventory.

The cashier puts this check through, and reaches for the next one. Again, the customer says "OK, now just that one."  This is when my new hero steps in.

The lady behind her, a woman wearing a striped shirt and buying a full load of groceries, says "No.  Just ring them up on my purchase."

The cashier, of course, looks confused.  Again, she tells him to ring up the items on her bill.  "Just this one?" the cashier asks her.

"NO, all of them."  Striped Shirt says, pushing four more cans forward.  Apparently, the Check Lady expected to go through this whole process four more times while the rest of us waited.  Remember, all registers had long lines, so it wasn't exactly the ideal time for seven thousand separate check purchases to be rung through.

I wasn't close enough to hear if Check Lady thanked her, but it didn't look like it from where I was standing. She took her cans and walked off without any visible sign of appreciation.

The fun didn't stop there, however.  There was a woman in front of us in line who had a cart full of product of her own.  Once Check Lady was gone, the line started moving pretty quickly, so the woman in front of us was up in minutes.  The cashier and his bagger were getting back into the grove of their routines, and the cashier smiled said something to him like "We're back on track now!"

The lady in front of us says "How about you just shut your mouth and do your job?"  Then she snatched her receipt and left without so much as a "Thank you" or "Have a good day" or any sort of civilized behavior whatsoever.

Needless to say, I was furious.  What is WRONG with people?!

Shopping Tip of the Day:  Don't be a jerk.  

While it may seem like zero thought went into this Tip of the Day, it is simple advice that no one seems to follow.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Phone Replacement

We were standing in line at the Post Office (it seems a lot of my customer encounters happen there) when I had the pleasure of overhearing a woman who was shipping out a broken cell phone.  She was nice enough to the postal worker, but listening to her tell the story about her precious phone made me slightly crazy.  Slightly.

She put her box on the counter and said, "I need to send this phone back to Phone Company X because they won't send me a new one until I do."

"Ok," the postal woman said as she put the box on her scale.

"It's ridiculous!" the customer continued.  "Have you ever heard of that?"


The postal worker didn't really answer at first.  She just gave a sympathetic look and started typing.  "Would you like to insure this?" she asked.

"Yes," the customer nodded.

"How much insurance?"

"Four hundred and fifteen.  That's not what I paid, but that's what it's worth.  I got a deal on mine."

Thanks for sharing.  We're all impressed.  Me, especially.

But now, the other workers behind the counter become a bit more talkative as they discuss cell phone contracts.  Eventually, the woman resumes her whining about sending her cell phone back.

"I just don't understand it.  Why do I have to send my phone back before they give me a replacement?  I mean, my phone is my work!  I can't function without it!"

I admit that I have a bit of technology of my own that I use daily in my writing.  But I realize that no technology is perfect, accidents happen, and we need to be prepared in the event that a piece or even all of that technology fails.  If you have put your entire life into one piece of equipment with the assumptions that it will always be there for you, you are just begging for disaster.

Regarding the requirement that the old phone be sent back first, I can tell you that this has been warranty policy for MOST electronics products for decades.  I realize that some people think that companies should take the customer's word at face value, but if you've learned nothing else from retail ramblings, you should know by know that customers have demolished their own trustworthiness.

The phone company doesn't know if you're actually going to send the phone back.  For all they know, you could be scamming them for a new one so you can sell it on ebay.  Or perhaps you plan to "jailbreak" it so you can use it on another service.  Or maybe the damage done to your old phone was your fault therefore not covered under warranty.  There are far too many people looking to take advantage of customer-friendly companies (more than the average person assumes) for businesses to be able to act in good faith.  So if you feel a company's policies and practices are unfair, thank your fellow customers for that.

Don't get me wrong - I realize just as much as the next guy that there are a lot of morally reprehensible business practices out there.  But the current ME ME ME generation of customer has forced many companies to resort to measures that, in an honest society, might not be necessary.

Take the MPAA's constant efforts to get Congress to pass freedom-killing anti-piracy legislation, for example.  The MPAA is reaching FAR beyond the boundaries of their authority (since when were they made members of Congress, anyway?) in the name of battling piracy.  And while their methods are completely unacceptable and unconstitutional, if people weren't out there pirating music, movies, games, etc., the MPAA wouldn't have a single leg to stand on.  The ME generation says, "I want it, so I'm taking it," and then flips when companies retaliate.

Again, just to be clear, I'm not supporting the MPAA.  I blacked-out my site when the internet stood against SOPA and will continue to stand against anything that infringes on our freedoms.  I'm simply saying that if customers were a bit more honest and less selfish, perhaps businesses would be willing to trust them more.

Back to today's story, the woman said one last thing before paying her bill and leaving.  IT nearly made me laugh.

"I'm not even upset."

Yeah, we can tell.

"I just feel bad for Phone Company X because they're hurting themselves, ya know?"

Are you kidding me?  First off, you're complaining to the POST OFFICE about your cell phone replacement, and you want them to believe you're not upset?

And second, how long have you worked for Phone Company X?  You must be an employee, because that's the only way you could know whether or not their replacement policies hurt them.  You are in no position to make that call unless you know their supply costs, shipping costs, repair costs, the costs of any deals they may or may not have with outside service centers, how much they pay versus how much warranty sales cover, and any number of other figures.

People just don't get it.  All they care about is the fact that they're upset, and that's it.  It just furthers my belief that the phrase "The customer is always right" has absolutely destroyed humanity by promoting selfishness, arrogance, and above all else, greed.

It's a sad time we live in.

Shopping Tip of the Day for 4/23/2012:  If another shopper looking at something you want to look at, wait patiently for your turn.  If you start trying to wedge your way in front of me, I'm going to stand there as long as it takes for you to go away out of nothing more than spite.  You're not the only shopper in the store, so don't act like you are.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Me, Me, Me

Had quite a day today.  The self-centered mentality of people in this country continues to grow exponentially.

It started in Walmart this afternoon when we went to pick up a few things.  The aisles in our Walmart are not exactly spacious; you can barely fit two carts side by side.  As we turned our cart down one of the aisles, a man stood there bickering with what I can only assume was his wife.  He stood there with an empty cart in the dead center of the aisle. and she was beside him.  Even without a cart, we wouldn't have been able to get around him.  He looked at me.  Looked at Laura. And then they continued bickering as we stood there awkwardly.  Obviously, they owned the aisle - how dare we expect them to allow other shoppers through?!  So silly of us not to realize that they were the only people that mattered.

Went to dinner at Fazoli's tonight, an Italian fast-food place here in St. Louis.  It is one of many establishments that allow you to fill your own soda, complete with unlimited refills.

Our table was right next to the soda machines, and while we were eating a saw a guy with a cup that he'd brought from home.  And it wasn't just any cup, it was one of those truck-driver style buckets that could, without exaggeration, fit an entire gallon bottle inside it and then some.  He walked past and found a chair, and I foolishly assumed that he'd brought his own drink with him in that thing.

Meanwhile, the poor woman cleaning tables came out with two giant (and obviously heavy) buckets full of ice for the dispensers on the soda machines.  She got a little step ladder out, climbed up and dumped both buckets (one at a time, of course) into the first soda machine.  Then she disappeared.

We were just about done eating when we see her return with two more buckets for the second machine.  I didn't think anything of it until Laura motioned in her direction.  I look up to see her standing there, holding a bucket in each hand, waiting as the guy fills his giant bucket at the soda machine.  What's worse is that he saw her waiting there while he was stealing his soda, and didn't budge until his cup was full.  There was so much wrong with it that I just wanted to scream at him.  But unfortunately, our country is overrun by the "ME FIRST" generation, and no one matters to anyone except themselves.

Later, we decided to go to Target to see if we could find a $5.00 movie (hopefully of the awesomely bad persuasion) to enjoy tonight.  While we were there, Laura wanted to look at the Valentine's candy and stuffed animals and whatnot.  While we were in the aisle, she was looking at something while I stopped to look at a plastic heart full of Skittles.  I'm lucky I didn't turn around, because these two women with a child in their cart (not in the seat part) almost immediately round the corner and come right up to where I'm standing.  And I mean they pushed the cart up against my back.  We're talking so close that if I HAD turned around, I would've unexpectedly elbowed the poor kid in the head.  Of course, their incessant gossiping was so important that they didn't even notice when I looked at Laura and said quite audibly "What is WRONG with people!?"  So self-absorbed that no one else mattered.

Then on the way out of Target, a man and a woman were leaving the building ahead of us when the man decided to leave their empty cart behind.  So he turned and walked it to the side - which was fine.  But the woman decided to stand there waiting for him holding her two bags in the center of the doorway despite the fact that Laura, myself, and several others behind us were trying to get out.  I had to squeeze through beside her, and Laura elected to use the door on the other side.  No courtesy, no acknowledgement of the other people inhabiting the world around her, and no apologies as people squeezed through.  Only she mattered to herself.  Only she was important.

What a ridiculous day it has been.

Shopping tip of the day for 1/12/2012:  I DON'T CARE IF YOU'RE A CUSTOMER!  YOU ARE NOT THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

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Saturday, May 21, 2011


When CompUSA closed most of its stores in 2007, our store was one of them. And since we were all losing our jobs, we figured we might as well make the most of it.

The closing sale worked in increments. Every week or two weeks, the discount percentage would rise by either five or ten percent. That meant that items would eventually wind up being 90% off on closing day.

So a few of us went around and gathered up some products we were interested and put them aside in one of the back rooms. CompUSA didn't want us doing that, but what were they going to do? Fire us? Oh, wait.

Anyway, on the store's last day, I grabbed my small basket of items and brought it to the register just as the store was opening for one last time. I didn't have much; I think there was a computer game, an SD card, some air cans, and some cheap little odds and ends.

But as I put it on the counter, the first customer through the door comes right over to us and reaches right into my basket, shifting things around as his eyes darted around in search of a good deal.

"Excuse me?" I asked, glaring at him. "Can I help you?"

He drops the computer game and waves it away. "No," he grunts. This guy was actually a regular shopper to the store; and an frequent complainer. I wanted to tell him off because it was our last day and there wasn't any reason to hold back, but I figured it was best not to start confrontation.

But to this day, I still cannot comprehend why people turn into such vultures when there is a sale going on. I realize you want to save money. We all do! But don't go stepping all over other people to get there. Have some common courtesy.

Shopping Tip of the Day for 5/21/11: Please stop stealing the demo units that have "FOR DISPLAY ONLY" written across them. They aren't real, you won't be able to sell them for any money, you're ruining our displays in the process, and you can STILL get arrested for it.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Bold Move, Mr. Customer. Very Bold.

Some customers had elaborate plots planned in order to steal merchandise. Sometimes they'll sneak a product to a dark corner of the store and leave it there for an accomplice to pick up later. Other times they'll bring their friends in to distract the floor employees while they just take what they want from the unguarded shelves. Some will bring backpacks and suitcases. Many bring box cutters and find clever places to discard the empty boxes. There's almost always a plan of some kind, and usually it involves the thief leaving the store with his or her loot long before the company has any idea that something was stolen.

Then there was this guy.

At CompUSA, we kept the majority of our computers on the overhead top stock. It was the easiest way to keep them out of the way and neatly organized. The boxes were lined up above the shelves right to the left of the entrance door and in plain view of the customer service desk.

So one day, we had a customer come in to purchase a computer. The sales person climbed the big ladder to top stock and pulled down the PC. But when the associate walked off to retrieve the monitor, the customer made his move.

Outside, a buddy of his was waiting in a running car. The buddy jumped out of the vehicle and ran up to the building, triggering the sliding entrance doors. Inside, no more than twenty feet away, the customer picked up the computer and ran out with it through the open doors.

Right in front of the customer service desk.

The two of them jumped into the car and sped off with the computer as the girl at the service desk paged a manager, but the car was gone by the time anyone got to the front. I don't think the machine was ever recovered, but we captured the whole incident on our security cameras.

It was certainly one of the more blatant thefts I'd ever witnessed. No opening boxes in a corner, no tools or baggy clothes, or anything like that. Just a grab-and-go procedure. Gotta love people who think they deserve to just take whatever they want whether they've earned it or not.

Shopping Tip of the Day for 5/14/11: If a company has product locked inside a secured case, don't wander around mumbling things like "How do they expect anyone to buy this stuff if it's under lock and key?!" under your breath. You know exactly what's going on, and you know exactly what you need to do to get your item.

Just open your mouth and ask. Politely. Get rude or impatient with us, and we may suddenly have another customer that we "forgot" was waiting on us. Or paperwork that needed to be done. Or a dog that needed walking.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Here's Your Sign

When our CompUSA began posting signs regarding our going out of business sale, I was away due to a family emergency. So I was unaware of just how many signs we had been instructed to post.

Holy crap.

When I came back, there were dozens and dozens of giant purple signs with yellow paint-splatter graphics and giant red letters that read "GOING OUT OF BUSINESS SALE!" Without exaggeration, these signs lined the ceiling from left to right, right to left, front to back, and back to front. Side by side, there was probably only about a foot or two between each. Front to back was maybe four feet.

And they weren't just on the ceiling. Smaller versions were on the counters, the doors, the displays, and the shelves. Along with that were the percentage signs reading how much each area of product had been discounted. The point is, it was impossible to miss these signs.

Then again, just because we posted them doesn't mean they're true, right?

On the second or third day of the sale, I had a man come up to me in the middle of the store and ask me with a straight face, "Are you guys really going out of business?"

He had to be joking. That's what I assumed, anyway. "Excuse me?" I asked, hoping maybe I'd misheard him.

"Someone told me you guys were closing down," he said again. If he was acting, he was doing a spectacular job of it. He honestly looked and sounded upset by the news. "Is it true?"

I looked up a the signs overhead and stared long enough for him to follow suit. "Nope," I said, "we just like the colors on those signs."

He took the joke in good humor. I wasn't trying to offend him, but at the same time, I couldn't possibly imagine how he hadn't noticed any of the promotional material plastered all over the place.

Shopping Tip of the Day for 5/7/11: Have you ever seen those large porcelain bowls in store restrooms? They're called "toilets." That's where you take care of your business. Not on the floor. Not in the trash can. Nope, not the sink either.

Ladies, that applies to you too.

(Ugh, I can't believe I'm trying to teach such basic functions of human life to "adults." Time to start acting your age, people. And if your child causes a mess due to their lack of understanding how the process works, it is your job as a parent to clean up after them. I'm sorry if that comes as a shock to those of you who thought it was the store's responsibility to babysit Junior.)